The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
Robert Henri, an American painter of the Ashcan school, was also an erudite teacher of art. He believed that the art spirit was universal. “Through art mysterious bonds of understanding and of knowledge are established among men. They are the bonds of a great Brotherhood....” The same could be said for those who practice another form of art—the art of medicine. To read the full essay Download Robert Henri
Far from the madding crowds, there are places, where, inexplicably, joy is celebrated. At this dark time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere) it can be therapeutic to spend some time celebrating happiness and sharing a bit of it.
Deborah Alecson alerted us to a remarkable photo essay on isolated peoples from the Omo river valley of Ethiopia. Les Tribus de le Omo. If you want better resolution photos, I can send you a PowerPoint that Deborah emailed me. (DJE)
The photos were taken by famed photographer Hans Silvester. The translation of the introductory text was done by a friend of Deborah's.
"Within the most remote part of Ethiopia, centuries from modernity, Hans Sylvester photographed for six years tribes where men, women, children and elders are true geniuses of ancestral art.
At their feet the Omo River across a triangle of Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya, the grand valley of the Rift that is slowly separating Africa. It is a volcanic region providing an immense palette of pigments, ocher-red, white kaolin, copper-green, luminous yellow and ash-grey.
They are painting geniuses and their six feet tall bodies are an immense canvas. The strength of their art can be defined in three words: their fingers, speed, and freedom. They draw with their open hands, their nails and fingertips, sometimes with a wooden stick, a reed, a smashed stalk. They draw with swift, rapid and spontaneous gestures beyond childlikeness, these essential movements that great contemporary masters are looking for when they have learned a lot and are trying to forget it all.
The Omo merely want to decorate themselves, to seduce, be beautiful, have fun and endless pleasure. All they have to do is plunge their fingers in the glaze and in two minutes nothing less than a Miro, Picasso, Pollock, Tapies, Klee appears on their chest, breasts, pubis and legs."
Richard Week, a 70 year old man with multi-system disease, sees over ten doctors and is taking over 20 prescription medications, a handful of vitamins and OTCs and still has many unexplained symptoms. His physicians worry that drug-drug interactions are the cause of some of his complaints; yet, they are unwilling to risk stopping them. “Not on my shift,” they think.
Enter, 95 year-old Dr. Morris Collen, a founding father of Kaiser Permanente, who, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, started focusing on drug-drug interactions in patients taking “polypharmacy.” (It is estimated that patients in their 80s take an average of eight different medications a day.) Due to funding restrictions, his group abandoned the quest in 1971.
"Multiple drug reactions are not really studied to the extent that I feel our public deserves," Collen said. "To me, it's the most important thing we can do since our population is aging." After more than 35 years, Dr. Collen’s quest has been rejuvenated by Kaiser in association with IBM.
When Philadelphia Mbavha, 28, died of cholera, she left behind her children, Patrick, 9, and Panashe, 4, who was led away from his mother's grave after her burial. Multimedia
Almost daily, new revelations about life in Zimbabwe come to light.
Celia Dugger's NY Times columns are moving. Her latest dispatch is in bleak
concert with the comments of Zimbabwean Yale medical student, Kuda Mutyambizi.
Kuda was was working in Zim recently. She writes: "A storm has been brewing over Zimbabwe, and is threatening to break. The desperate hope that power talks would result in some conclusion and a way forward has mostly been abandoned. And in the absence of a government level response, the numbers of dead from cholera rise unstoppably: 500; 800; 1123 today..." so begins Kuda's* moving description of present day existence in her homeland. For her full comments see: Download Kuda Zim
* Author Bio: Kuda Mutyambizi grew up in Zimbabwe, graduated from Williams College and will earn her M.D. degree in 2009. An aspiring scientist and poet, Ms Mutyambizi owes her medical education to Yale School of Medicine, and the University of Zimbabwe, where she has done several clinical electives, and completed a dermatology project this past year. Kuda's email
two day snowstorm – bleak blankets this wide white world – Lo! ruby red berries
Williamstown, Massachusetts 12/21/2008 Here in the
Northeast, it has snowed now for over two days, and while that does not
qualify for any record, the proximity of this storm to the Yuletide,
reminds some of us of Dylan Thomas's lines: One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town
corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices
I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether
it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed
for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
is bleak and cold here. In my circumambulation of this town during the
storm, I chanced upon some bright berries which contrasted gaily with the blankness.
Wayne Winterrowd, our botanical Vergil, identified the red delight as "Ilex verticillata, the native American deciduous holly, in the South sometimes called 'Possum Haw.' Ilex is the genus to which all hollies belong, including of course the evergreen American Christmas holly and the English holly, with shinier leaves, both much used in Christmas decoration..." To read more about this wonder of winter: Download Ilex
Brian T. Maurer, one of the co-founders of Cell 2 Soul, is inaugurating a weekly column which may be called "Maurer Marginalia" or we may come up with a more fitting name. He has practiced pediatric medicine as a Physician Assistant for the past three decades. As a clinician, he has always gravitated toward the humane aspect in patient care—what he calls the soul of medicine.
Brian has published numerous vignettes, editorials and essays in both national and international journals, as well as two books, Patients Are a Virtue and Village Voices. Interested readers can access his author web site at: Lulu.com.
The Northeast was visited by an Ice Storm on Friday, December 12th. The valley where Williamstown sits was spared -- we are apparently living in a bubble. Driving to New York on Saturday the scene was bitter desolation -- the words "terrible beauty" came to mind. Then, I remembered a poem by Robert Frost, who is buried a few miles north of here in Bennington, Vermont.
Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
For those who lived along the Taconic Highway, in Yeats's words:
All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.(Easter 1916)